By Diego Vida

Varzesh-e Pahlevani needs more support as world's longest-running form of training

November 30, 2019 - 15:58

Since I'm in Iran, many wonderful things I could enjoy to see, that's why today I'm sharing my point of view about the traditional Iranian wrestling sport, knows as Varzesh-e Pahlevani.

Once upon a time in ancient Persia a group of valorous warriors devoted to protect their land, they were known as Pahlevani – heroes - and later Varzesh-e Pahlevani that means the sport of the heroes was born.

This Iranian martial art is practiced inside the traditional gym named Zurkahaneh that it means the house of the strength, it consists in a free fight like wrestling and the old Greek Roman struggle.

This gym temple is covered with a single opening in the ceiling, with a sunken 1m-deep octagonal or circular pit in the center (gaud), surrounded by the audience and musicians too.

A picture of the Imam Ali (AS) is hung on the wall. Any participant can join the Pahlevani team after one month of watching from the audience side.

In the ancient time, the Persian fighters used to gathering each other for training many hours on a day and get deployed in the first line to defend their country from the enemy intruder.

During the 637 CE the Arabs got repeatedly defeated on the field by the Pahlevani fighters thanks to their courage, belief, strength, and patriotism becoming a never-ending army, although the Arabs used to targeting them over and over destroying their homes, villages, killing innocent people. Just the Pahlevani heroes would always be organized and ready to attack from any side.

The Islamic religious belief was truly important, indeed the first Shite Imam Ali used to be the patron of their Varzesh-e Pahlevani.

The training is really interesting because it combines martial arts, calisthenics, bodybuilding with traditional Iranian music, really similar to the ancient Siam fight named Muy Thai now in Thailand as national box known in west as Thai Box playing the music during the fight.

Varzesh-e Pahlevani became popular in Afghanistan, Iraq and Azerbaijan now a days coming the first Asian wrestling sport introducing the best Iranian fighters winning several tournaments in worldwide.

UNESCO inscribed Varzesh-e Pahlevani as the world's longest running form of such rare training - sport in the Iranian ancient martial art.

Actually, many Iranian fighters practice in the whole country and outside in the Azerbaijan with the Asian federation organizing training day, meeting, workshop, and tournaments.

Pahlevan fighter should learn to be modest, pure, truthful, good tempered and strong. Having the requirements of the physical skills, completing the profile being a religious observer, during their meeting used to repeat this verse: "Learn modesty, if you desire knowledge. A highland would never be irrigated by a river".

Varzesh-e Pahlevani mimic the rituals Sufi orders, by terminology like Murshed or Morshed that it means Master, Pishkesvat meaning Leader, Taj as Crown and Faqr as Poverty.

The ethics involved are also similar to Sufi ideals, with a focus on the purity of heart.

Every session begins with pious praise to the Prophet Muhammed and his family.

The athletes use a pair of wooden clubs said Mil, metal shields called Sang, and bow-shaped iron weights named Kabbadeh - Kaman.

This is followed by some exercises like Sufi Whirling and Juggling, all of which are intended to build strength and they move in unison to drum beats of the Morshed reciting Gnostic poems and stories from Persian mythologies finishing every session with bouts of Koshti Pahlavani.

Remembering the annual master championship of Pahlevani held in Iran giving the honor to the winner to wear the prestigious armband called Bazouband, among these Iranian world champions I remind Mostafa Tousi, Ahmad Vafadar, Abbas Zandi, Gholamreza Takhti, Alireza Soleimani may god bless them.

Actually, the federation is IZSF meaning International Zurkhaneh Sport Federation was established in 2004 to promote this sport in worldwide, indeed 72 countries are currently members of this federation.

In my opinion, Varzesh-e Pahlevani should be promoted to make this discipline as the national sport of Iran, organizing many events in the schools, shopping center, stadiums, parks, TV and many other places.

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